Romulus Councilwoman Virginia Williams cast the lone no vote on a rezoning request from NorthPoint Development during the Oct. 25 meeting.
NorthPoint, presently in the development stage of the 171-acre, multi-million-dollar Romulus Trade Center along the south side of Smith Road, the east side of Vining Road and north of Wick Road in the city, requested the special land use approval to allow a fueling station and convenience store, restaurant and car wash at the northeast corner of Wick and Vining roads.
Members of the Romulus Planning Commission approved the request at an earlier meeting and recommended approval of the Royal Farms convenience store and fueling station. During the Oct. 25 meeting, NorthPoint Economic Development Manager John Sweeney told the council that the developers were excited that the contract with Royal Point had been finalized and the facility would offer 24-hour services. He explained that the car wash and fueling station were included in the original plans for the development also approved by members of both the city council and the planning commission.
Williams, however, objected to the plan and the proposed Royal Farms.
“It's not a restaurant. Regardless of what the council approves, it's not what the public wants,” she said. “What I'm looking for is a restaurant where you can go, sit down and eat. You're excited, the council is excited. I'm not,” she stated emphatically.
Williams said her comments were not a personal attack on Royal Farms but an expression of her concern for the best use of the site. “Competition is good for everyone but less than a mile away there is a Speedway. This will be in competition with Speedway and make their prices go up,” she said.
“I don't agree with this. The city should have stayed at the bargaining table a little longer and got something the residents really wanted,” she said. Williams asked how this will help residents noting that North Point claims the development will generate $38 million for the Romulus School District during the next 20 years but that there was no estimate of any benefit for the city.
Sweeney responded that the obvious answer would be the tax revenue from the development and the jobs the project would bring to the city. In negotiations with city officials, NorthPoint predicted 1,180 jobs, another 629 construction jobs, $55 million in real property to the city in addition to a projected $38 million for the school district. NorthPoint is also “making a “substantial investment in the city infrastructure,” he said.
Councilman William Wadsworth asked if the car wash at Royal Farms was limited to passenger vehicles and was not for commercial trucks and Councilwoman Kathy Abdo asked Sweeney for assurance that there was to be no overnight parking for trucks at the Royal Farms location. Sweeney explained that the car wash was limited to passenger vehicles and that overnight parking was prohibited.
Wadsworth said that he felt, “This is not a perfect project, but it's something. I think it's the beginning of something taking place there.”